NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Three Lipscomb track and field athletes qualified to compete in the East Preliminary Round of the NCAA Track and Field Championships hosted next week by the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida.
Sophomore Gemikal Prude qualified in the high jump, junior Colin Dempster qualified in the 400 meters, and sophomore Madi Talbert qualified in the 3000-meter steeplechase.
"This marks the third year in a row that we have qualified three to the NCAA I National Championships Preliminary round,” said Bill Taylor, director of track and field.
All three athletes were ranked in the top 48 in their respective events. The top 12 in this competition will go on to the final round in Eugene, Oregon in June.
"This is the second trip to National Preliminaries for Gemikal and Madi,” Taylor said. “Madi was the surprise of the field in the steeplechase last year, moving from 42nd ranked coming in, to qualifying to the National finals as one of the top 12 in the East.”
Talbert was the first Lipscomb athlete ever to qualify for the NCAA National Championships.
Prude just missed the finals last year, but has shown excellent improvement coming off a strong indoor season.
“He has taken it to another level this year, coming off an indoor season in which he became the first ever Lipscomb man to qualify for a national final and the first ever Lipscomb track athlete to qualify for indoor nationals,” Taylor said. “Both Gemikal and Madi have great experience already that should serve them well.”
Dempster will make the trip to the East Preliminaries for the first time.
“He was ranked in the 60s in the East, but we kept him here in case, knowing there was a chance enough runners would scratch to move him up,” Taylor said. “It happened and he goes in as the 42nd-ranked 400-meter runner in the east preliminaries.”
The group competed at the Atlantic Sun Outdoor Championships this past weekend bringing home strong finishes.
Talbert won the 3000-meter steeplechase finishing in 10:28.7, setting the A-Sun Outdoor Championship record in the event. She also picked up a win in the 5000 meters with a time of 16:58.24.
Dempster placed second in the 400 meters after crossing the line in 47.29. His time broke the outdoor school record.
Prude finished second in the high jump clearing 2.11 meters.
"Each of these athletes had a different road to qualify,” Taylor said. “Gemikal is one of the top-ranked high jumpers in the nation. He was guaranteed a spot in the National Preliminaries after he jumped 2.21 meters. We didn't have to wonder and he was able to relax and prepare mentally for the meet.”
Dani Walker and Tucker Peabody would have qualified for the competition, but were not declared due to injuries.
Both were solidly ranked in the top 48 of their events, Peabody in the 200 meters and Walker in 1500 meters.
"I am really proud of all three athletes, as well as Tucker and Dani,” Taylor said. “They continue to move our program forward in our plan to be a national force. I expect that next year we will have a lot more than three get in too.
"It's also nice to compete at North Florida, the site of the A-Sun Championships each year,” Taylor said. “It's as close to competing on a home track as we can get. We stay in the same hotel, we know our way around, and we've had a lot of success on that track."